Located on England's South East coast, around 2 and a half hours from London, the historic fishing town of Rye has been synonymous with beachside holidays. With a quaint village to explore and a mere 10 minutes drive from the sandy beaches of Camber Sands, the only sand dune system in East Sussex.
Rye is also an easy 2 hour drive from Brighton and accessible by rail from London, Brighton, Eastbourne and many cities in neighbouring Kent.
The Cotswolds are a declared 'Area of National Beauty' that are situated around 2 hours North West of London. They are renown for their quintessentially British market towns and their beautiful stone cottages.
The Cotswolds are home to larger towns such as Cheltenham and Cirencester but have been put on the map for their unique smaller villages such as Stowe- on-the-Wold and the very popular Lower Slaughter.
The concept of weekending in Europe was an exciting and foreign one to us Aussies. At a stretch we may 'long weekend' in New Zealand or a Pacific Island, but it is near impossible to travel any further than Australia within the confines of a weekend.
Due to conflicting holiday schedules (me, the teacher have 13 weeks a year, and the husband, a consultant having 4 weeks a year), weekending in Europe was not only going to be exciting, but a necessary way for us to travel during our time in the UK.
Whilst we had grandiose ideas of flitting off every weekend (and believe me in the first year we hit the travel hard!) we learned some rules early on to ensure that we could weekend away without being completely ruined come Monday morning.
Read on and I will share them with you.
You may or may not be familiar with the movie The Imitation Game. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, code breaker and creator of the first computer. It is set in UK during World War 2 and follows the story line of the development of the enigma machine which eventually cracked Nazi and Japanese encrypted messages, ending the war much sooner than it would have otherwise.
I came to learn of Bletchley Park and Alan Turing from this movie. It was a story that I had not heard before, but upon hearing it I became immediately intrigued and decided that at some point I must visit the real Bletchley Park where the real events this movie is based on actually took place.
When we first moved to the UK, we had lots of plans of weekend away in Europe exploring new and exciting places. After living in the UK for nearly two years, we have now realised that weekends in Europe come at a cost. It is tiring travelling to the airport, gaining and losing time, and we have also been caught out a few times with airline delays when flying home on a Sunday evening. Sometimes you want to get away, but to truly relax.
Here lies the beauty of the 'staycation'. For those of you who aren't sure what this is, it is a vacation, or holiday in your own neck of the woods. You get all of the benefits of a weekend away without the hassle of travelling far to your destination. Sounds perfect, right?
The Queen of England has three residences in the UK. Buckingham Palace in London, Holyrood Palace in Scotland and Windsor Castle on the outskirts of London. It could be said that Buckingham Palace is her office, Holyrood is for Scottish visits and dignitaries and that Windsor Castle is her home.
When it comes to exploring Europe, I'm not all that keen on the idea of driving around on my own on the wrong side of the road. I can't even imagine how I'd tackle a roundabout without having a head on collision, so for me, its either public transport, flying or a tour. "Why don't you just travel with a friend?" you say. Well, thing is, I am living in the UK with my husband and nearly all of our friends are back home in Australia. As a teacher I have 13 weeks leave a year and he has 4 1/2, so in my case, its either head out solo, or spend holidays back in the UK in our flat. I know what I'd rather do.
I had heard mixed reviews about Gibraltar, but something inside of me desired to see 'The Rock'. I decided to base myself in Seville for 4 days in order to explore the Moorish architecture and history of the south whilst being able to take in The Alhambra, the Seville Alcazar and of course Gibraltar.
Being an Australian, I am used to driving on the opposite side of the road and would surely cause an accident if I were to drive in Europe. This being said I decided that I would navigate Seville on foot and take day tours to The Alhambra and Gibraltar. Whilst this was the most practical option for me, it resulted in me nearly missing the chance to see Gibraltar. At 9:30 the night before my tour was due to depart, my tour guide called to cancel. I expressed my annoyance at the extremely late notice and luckily, for quite a few Euros more, the guide managed to find a driver to take me on a personal tour.
Slightly poorer, but happy, I was picked up in a new BMW by a driver who spoke as much English as I speak Spanish. We communicated through hand signals and the odd word translated on Google. Located around 2.5 hours south west of Seville, it is a comfortable and scenically pretty drive on the highway.
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